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How Is Identity Connected To Our Happiness?

In this post I’ll be taking a slightly more unorthodox approach; looking at our attachment to identity and ego and seeing how liberating it is in letting that go.

As I have written in some of my other posts, our core beliefs and values in life are the backbone to who we are; both the perception of who we think we are and how we appear to others.

Standing up for what we believe to be right or true often reaffirms our identity, which comforts and reassures us. Being right just feels good!

You could say that defending our beliefs and therefore our identity is a life or death option for many, as can be seen by the history of war and conflict in the world. So it’s not surprising that even in our day to day lives defending our identity becomes critical in many areas of our lives. Having an identity keeps us sane and you could look at the ultimate loss of identity as death.

If we think about it our identity is all we really have. Or more accurately all we believe we have. Without an identity who are we? Is our identity based purely on what we believe about ourselves, the things that happen in our lives, the things we have, the things we don’t have and the things we want? Is our identity an illusion or perception rather than something so critical?

Thinking about this concept we can easily look at all sorts of anxiety, conflict and struggle we all face again and again and see that they can be traced to a fear of losing our identity and the need to defend it. The need to be right, even in petty arguments, reaffirms this idea. If we are proved to be wrong, losing a part of who we think we are, can cause us to feel very vulnerable.

The more experience we have of feeling vulnerable or fragile due to a loss of identity the more likely we are to want to protect it. Yet how helpful is this?

If we weren’t so attached to our identity perhaps so many of our troubles would be less likely to occur. It would mean we might still feel vulnerable, yet we would be more comfortable with the vulnerability and being ‘wrong’.

I consider this to be a healthy vulnerability. When our buttons get pushed and we react to people or situations with strong emotions it is usually because our identity is being threatened in some way even if it’s not immediately apparent. What if we can challenge ourselves to push through, and feel the vulnerability and discomfort, putting the importance of our identity into a different perspective. To place our energy in that space of vulnerability, rather than towards defending our identity. Instead of taking a black or white/all or nothing approach, we can start to see the grey areas in between.

By practising this, taking little steps each time we find ourselves in those situations, we have more mental space to explore and consider other options and choices and see a situation from another’s view point. We begin to feel liberated from the attachment to our identity, feel more empowered and have a higher self esteem and self worth. Taking a curiosity and a quest for learning about ourselves and others in these situations is a far more helpful place to put our energies.

For some however there is a more complex game going on; self sabotage. This is when there is a part of us that doesn’t want us to be happy and can thrive on drama and conflict and is usually based on an old behaviour or belief that had a positive purpose at that time.  This tricky dilemma can be resolved through NLP and Hypnotherapy by bringing the two or more opposing parts into alignment and resolution. I have written more about that in another blog post about switching off internal conflict and another post of relevance is about understanding and changing beliefs.

So the next time you find yourself passionately mounting a defence remind yourself, if possible, of this post and that you have the choice of where you want your energy to go and for what purpose.

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